AgDevCo invests $1.5m in Malawi peanut factory

Afri-Oils aims to revive Malawi's groundnut export industry, with benefits for tens of thousands of smallholder farmers

AgDevCo, a social impact agribusiness investor, announced a $1.5m debt and equity investment into a Malawian peanut (groundnut) processor.

The company, Afri-Oils Limited, is building a state-of-the-art processing facility for locally grown peanuts. By targeting regional and export markets, the company will provide higher incomes for 18,000 Malawian smallholder farmers.

Through farmer training programmes, and improved handling and sorting methods, Afri-Oils aims to demonstrate that Malawi can meet international standards on the control of aflatoxin, a naturally occurring mould which is harmful to health.

Malawi produces more than 200,000 tonnes of groundnuts annually but exports, which had regularly exceeded 50,000 tonnes before the 1990s, collapsed following the introduction of stricter international quality standards.

Afri-Oils' shareholders include NASFAM, a large Malawian farmers association, and Exagris which owns a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) paste manufacturer in Malawi. The company also benefits from a Dutch Government grant.

International buyers in Europe and South Africa have confirmed interest in sourcing significant volumes of peanuts from the company.

Jim Henderson, AgDevCo Malawi's Associate Director, said: 'We are backing Afri-Oils to tackle the aflatoxin challenge and put Malawi back on the map as a major international peanut producer.'

Tim de Borde, Afri-Oils' Chairman said: 'Afri-Oils aims to be a profitable enterprise that improves the lives of its farmer suppliers, and contributes to systemic improvements in the groundnut industry in Malawi.'

Dyborn Chibonga, NASFAM's CEO, said: 'Groundnuts are an important source of income and food for Malawi's farmers. NASFAM's investment in Afri-Oils will put more income into our members' pockets and improve health.'